By Jill Arnold
The Maternity Information Act was enacted in 1989 in New York and dictates that the New York State commissioner of health mandate that every hospital and birth center provide a maternity information leaflet directly to each prospective maternity patient. These leaflets are to be made available to the public upon request.
Here’s the law:
New York State Public Health Law: § 2803-j, Information for Maternity Patients
1. The commissioner shall require that every hospital and birth center shall prepare in printed or photocopied form and distribute at the time of pre-booking directly to each prospective maternity patient and, upon request, to the general public an informational leaflet. Such leaflet shall be designed by the commissioner and shall contain brief definitions of maternity related procedures and practices as specified in subdivision two of this section and such other material as deemed appropriate by the commissioner. Hospitals and birth centers may also elect to distribute additional explanatory material along with the maternity patients informational leaflet.
1-a. The informational leaflet shall also include an explanation of the special provisions relating to maternity care and coverage under the insurance law and section two thousand eight hundred three-n of this chapter, and suggest that expectant parents check their insurance policies for the details of their maternity coverage.
1-b. The informational leaflet shall also include information relating to the physical and mental health of the maternity patient after discharge from the hospital, including, but not limited to, information about post-partum depression.
1-c. The informational leaflet shall also include a description of the dangers of shaking infants and young children. The description shall include information on the effects of shaking infants and young children, appropriate ways to manage the causes of shaking infants and young children, and discussion on how to reduce the risks of shaking infants and young children.
2. Such leaflet shall also include statistics relating to the annual percentage of maternity related procedures performed at such hospital or birth center, as provided by the commissioner, including but not limited to the following:
(a) the annual rate of cesarean sections, primary, repeat and total, performed at such facility;
(b) the annual percentage of women with previous cesarean sections who have had a subsequent successful vaginal birth;
(c) the annual percentage of deliveries by midwives;
(d) the annual percentage of births utilizing electronic fetal monitoring listed on the basis of external and internal;
(e) the annual percentage of births utilizing forceps, listed on the basis of low forceps delivery and mid forceps delivery;
(f) the annual percentage of breech births delivered vaginally;
(g) the annual percentage of births utilizing analgesia;
(h) the annual percentage of births utilizing anesthesia including general, spinal, epidural, and paracervical listed on the basis of vaginal and cesarean births;
(i) the annual percentage of births utilizing induction of labor;
(j) the annual percentage of births utilizing augmentation of labor;
(k) the annual percentage of vaginal births utilizing episiotomies;
(l) whether birthing rooms are available for use in the facility;
(m) whether rooming-in is available in the facility, on the basis of twenty-four hours a day or daytime.
3. Compilation of the statistics set out in subdivision two of this section shall be the responsibility of the commissioner.
4. Statistical information shall be presented in the most recent one year aggregate.
(a) The commissioner shall establish an immunization schedule for newborn children. The immunization schedule shall chart out recommended immunizations against certain diseases and illnesses and age-appropriate times for the administration of each immunization. The immunization schedule shall also include information on the importance of getting children immunized at the recommended ages. The immunization schedule shall also include the toll-free telephone number operated by the department as part of its immunization education efforts. The immunization schedule shall be in accordance with recommendations established by the New York state department of health and the immunization practices advisory committee of the United States department of health and human services.
(b) The commissioner shall provide the immunization schedule to the local registrars for distribution pursuant to paragraph (b) of subdivision one of section four thousand one hundred thirty-seven of this chapter.
6. Every hospital and birth center shall request that each maternity patient and father of a newborn child, if available, view a video presentation, approved by the commissioner, on the dangers of shaking infants and young children, and the symptoms of shaken baby syndrome. After viewing such a video presentation or upon refusal to view such a video presentation, the hospital or birth center shall request that such patient and/or father sign a form stating that they have viewed or refused to view such video presentation. All training materials and forms required to implement the provisions of this subdivision shall be provided by the commissioner.
Here is the page on the New York State Department of Health web site which explains the limitations of the maternity care statisitics linked on the same page in simple language for the layperson. In addition, the page provides an address to which anyone can send a request for the booklet, titled Your Guide To A Healthy Birth.
New York State’s Maternity Information Law requires each hospital to provide the following information about its childbirth practices and procedures. This information can help you to better understand what you can expect, learn more about your childbirth choices, and plan for your baby’s birth.
Most of the information is given in percentages of all the deliveries occurring in the hospital during a given year. For example, if 20 births out of 100 are by cesarean section, the cesarean rate will be 20 percent. If external fetal monitoring is used in 50 out of 100 births, or one-half of all births, the rate will be 50 percent.
This information, alone, doesn’t tell you that one hospital is better than another for you. If a hospital has fewer than 200 births a year, the use of special procedures in just a few births could change its rates.
The types of births could affect the rates, as well. Some hospitals offer specialized services to women who are expected to have complicated or high-risk births, or whose babies are not expected to develop normally. These hospitals can be expected to have higher rates of the special procedures than hospitals that do not offer these services.
This information also does not tell you about your doctor’s or nurse-midwife’s practice. However, the information can be used when discussing your choices and wishes with your doctor or nurse-midwife, and to find out if his or her use of special procedures is similar to or different from that of the hospital.
You should play an active role in making your childbirth the kind of experience you want. To do so, you need information. Take part in childbirth preparation classes and read books about childbirth. Ask questions and discuss your wishes with your doctor or nurse-midwife.
A free booklet, Your Guide To A Healthy Birth, is available from the State Department of Health. For your copy, write:Healthy Babies
New York State Department of Health
Albany, NY 12220
Your Guide to a Health Birth is available as a PDF online.
New York readers: Were you given a booklet while pregnant? If so, by whom? Did it include a list of procedure rates, including cesarean section? Are you aware that this law exists?